Maize and risk of cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, and esophagus in Northeastern Italy

S. Franceschi, E. Bidoli, A. E. Baron, C. La Vecchia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The relationship between maize consumption and risk of cancer of the upper digestive tract was investigated in 107 patients with oral cancer, 107 with pharyngeal cancer, 68 with esophageal cancer, and 505 hospital controls who permanently resided in Pordenone Province in the northeastern part of Italy. The analysis was restricted to males. The population of this province has a high incidence of these neoplasms and shows particularly elevated levels of alcohol and tobacco use, in addition to high maize consumption. Highly significant associations with frequent intake of maize emerged for oral cancer, pharyngeal cancer, and esophageal cancer (odds ratios = 3.3, 3.2, and 2.8, respectively). The risk elevation could not be explained in terms of differences in education, occupation, tobacco use, or consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. The unfavorable effect of maize on risk of cancer of the upper digestive tract, however, was evident only in those individuals who reported heavy drinking (i.e., ≥42 alcoholic drinks/wk). The present findings are likely to be related to the fact that maize can cause deficiencies of various micronutrients (chiefly, niacin and riboflavin) and agree with previous observations from Africa, the People's Republic of China, the United States, and Italy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1407-1411
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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